GIGO: words unreadable aloud
Mishrogo Weedapeval


  Wednesday 16 April 2003
Racetrack Playa, DVNP

a rock at racetrack playa On the BayAreaHiking list, Suzanne Courteau mentioned Eric Rorer's Washington Post article about a Desert Survivors hike she had taken in Death Valley National Park last October.

The article mentions "... Racetrack Valley, one of the park's marquee attractions. The valley gets its name from rocks that move mysteriously, almost as if they're racing each other across the dry lake bed on the valley floor. The exact cause of the movement remains unknown."

This was the topic of an APOD last year (Astronomy Picture Of the Day). They claim to have a reasonable explanation now. See ...

My favorite explanation for the last couple of years has been this: it rains, and then the few inches of water on the top of the temporary lake freeze over (the playa is at almost 4000 feet elevation). Once you have a large sheet of ice floating on the water, it then lifts the rocks that are embedded in it, and the wind blows the whole ice floe, rocks and all, around on the slick, near-frozen mud flat. This explains why some of the rock trails are parallel, and why the occurrence is pretty rare.

[The photo here is from Paula Messina's well-done site, which the APOD story pointed out.]
11:08:02 PM   comment/     

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